Gilgit-Baltistan’s constitutional status


Gilgit-Baltistan’s constitutional status

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 6——-September 12, 2008
Call for joint struggle to attain rights

By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Nationalist leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir have called for joint struggle for the revival of the identity of the disputed region and for the attainment of constitutional, political and economic rights.
“The nationalist and progressive forces, both in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, should join hands and launch struggle for attainment of socio-political and constitutional rights usurped by the rulers of Pakistan for the last over six decades”, said leaders of All Parties National Alliance (APNA) while speaking at a press conference here.
Those who were present on the occasion included APNA secretasry-general Sardar Mohammad Sabir Kashmiri, press secretary Prof M.A.R.K Khaleeq, spokesman Wazir Shafi, Mirza Wajahat Hassan Khan, Arif Shahid and Manzoor Husain Parwana, member CEC of the alliance.
They said Gilgit-Baltistan has been denied its basic human rights only because it is part of the disputed Kashmir region.
They said Gilgit-Baltistan, which the government calls Northern Areas, has been kept deprived of all political, economic and constitutional rights for the last over 60 years. The same is the case with the people of Azad Kashmir. In the past both these regions had remained part of the Dogra rule. Therefore, it is necessary that nationalist and progressive parties in both Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir should join hands and launch a movement for attaining the political, economic and constitutional rights of the people.
They said APNA (Jammu Kashmir & Gilgit-Blatistan) was set up in the early 2001 to first end militancy and terrorism in the region and then launch a political movement to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people and ensure all basic rights for the masses.
Another objective of the alliance was to bring the people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan closer as they have been denied their due rights for the last over six decades. A number of political parties and other forces have joined the alliance and many were planning to join it. And secondly, people of both the region, especially the educated class, have started realizing the sufferings of the masses and are stressing joint efforts to resolve them.
The All Parties National Alliance leaders said they wanted the issue of Kashmir to be resolved through dialogue and at the same time wanted the governments of Pakistan and India to withdraw their troops and civilian officials from the region in accordance with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) resolutions and form self-governments in these regions.
They said Kashmir was not a religious but a national issue because at the time of partition of the subcontinent the 15 million people of the region were denied their due right of self-determination.
Therefore, we urge the international community to help us end the occupation of India and Pakistan on the region. They said they considered UN silence over the issue as a criminal neglect.
They also expressed concerns over allotment of land in the Northern Areas to non-local people and companies by the government of Pakistan.
They termed “violation of the State Subject Rules” the government’s move to allot land in the region to about 2,000 people and companies.
The APNA leaders demanded that the government should honour the resolutions of United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) under which Pakistan could not allot any land to non-local people or companies in Gilgit-Baltistan nor enter into agreements with other countries for any development project against the wishes of the local people.
The government has recently signed a number of agreements with China for the extension of roads and trade without taking the local population into confidence, they added.
They alleged that during the 61 years of independence, the government of Pakistan has constantly kept the people of the region under-developed and the area has been turned into a conflict zone due to the simmering tension with India over Kashmir. He said Pakistan was treating the area as its colony.

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